Mauricio Pochettino's side put in a determined performance to frustrate Barcelona and leave Real Madrid in front in the title .
An Alvaro Vazquez header five minutes before time cancelled out Cesc Fabregas' first half strike as Barcelona could only manage a 1-1 draw with Espanyol in Spanish Primera Division action on Sunday evening.
The away side dominated possession throughout the match, but was unable to capitalize on Fabregas' goal and Mauricio Pochettino's men stayed determined until the end to earn the draw.
The home side made a bright start, and almost took the lead within the first five minutes when Sergio Garcia clipped a cross to the back post for Joan Verdu. The former Barcelona man headed towards goal only for Victor Valdes to make an excellent diving save. Verdu smashed the rebound towards goal but Gerard Pique was on hand to make a heroic clearance off the line.
Barcelona thought it had taken the lead in the 13th minute when Cristian Alvarez passed the ball straight to the feet of Messi and the Argentine squared the ball for Fabregas to slot home. However, the referee spotted a handball from Messi and the goal was disallowed.
It took just three minutes for Pep Guardiola's side to score another, and this time it counted. Dani Alves made a typical run down the right wing and stood a cross up on the edge of the box for Fabregas. The former Arsenal man powered a header into the bottom corner, with some question marks over the goalkeeping of Alvarez.
The visiting side had another disallowed goal just before the hour mark when Alves collected an inch perfect pass through the middle from Xavi before taking the ball around Alvarez and slotting home, but the Brazilian was correctly ruled as offside.
Barcelona came close to extending the lead in the 76th minute through a Messi chance. The Argentine somehow dug out a shot on the byline and hit the post with a right-footed attempt from an impossible angle.
Espanyol's grit and determination paid off when it managed to grab an equalizing goal in the 85th minute. Raul Rodriguez drove down the right wing and crossed to the near post where Thievy flicked the ball on into the center and Alvaro was perfectly placed to head home and send the Espanyol fans into raptures.
The last few minutes of the game proved to be incredibly dramatic as Gerard Pique struck the post with a left-footed shot and Pedro's rebound appeared to be cleared off the line by the arm of Raul Rodriguez, but no penalty was given.
Barcelona now trails Real Madrid by five points in the title race and remains in second position. Espanyol moves on to 24 points and finds itself 8th place in La Liga.